Atlanta United is struggling, anyone with two eyes and access to a comments section can tell you that. But how and why are they struggling? I’ve done some patient analysis and I think it goes way beyond what we’ve discussed before. It’s not injuries, it’s not new tactics or a formation, or hackneyed discussion of metaphysics. So, let’s get into it — here’s why Atlanta United is struggling:
Turf: If Atlanta United was a real soccer team it would play on grass like they do in Argentina and Holland (oh wait). It’s impossible for Atlanta United to have a good home field advantage on artificial turf, it simply can’t play real soccer on it like they do in other places in the world where the grass is real and so is the soccer. The Five Stripes will never win MLS Cup on turf.
Congestion: So much congestion, so many fixtures so close together, how could any team hope to play well and do something like score seven goals against the Montreal Impact including a hat trick by a player who was on international duty all week? How could the manager possibly take a practical approach to the start of the season by reaching deep down the roster to give some guys some minutes so that both the league and international competitions were competitive? It’s not possible in MLS.
Weather: Did you see the rain? How about how dreary it was in Washington, DC? Or humid it was in Costa Rica or relatively higher in elevation it was in Monterrey, or temperate Mercedes Benz-Stadium is. How could any team expect to win in those conditions?
Tactics: The team were just flat track bullies all along. All they did was kick the ball really far down the field and use superior size and athleticism to beat bad teams and then lost to good ones when it really counted. MLS Analysts were right! Then when Frank de Boer showed up and tried to get the team to play real soccer it turned out that the Five Stripes were just another New York Red Bulls - FRAUDS WHO COULDN’T PLAY REAL SOCCER, frauds of the worst order!
Other: There’s another 2019 that must exist somewhere, one where Newcastle didn’t find enough money to buy Miguel Almiron and Tata decided to answer his press scrum questions honestly and declare that he would stay with Atlanta United forever instead of moving on from slaying the Dread God to slaying an even bigger and more formidable opponent: El Tri and the Round of 16. Instead, it’s actually 1Q84 and we’re trapped in this alternate reality and here are two moons. We’re in a parallel world. No one knows for how long or how did we get here. But we’re here to stay.
It’s the manager: Tata was just that good, there’s no other answer. How else could anyone explain the miraculous ability to get the most out of his players and turn them into overachievers with just a few months preparation. Josef was just a backup in Torino before he arrived, Tito just a guy who could run fast, Gressel a soon to be anonymous college graduate, Guzan a twice relegated basketball player, Yamil Asad bench fodder in a better league, and Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez a 20 yellow card season waiting to happen. It was all Tata, it always was. This one stings especially badly because it means we all have to watch Mexico win the World Cup in 2026.
Chris McCann: It is clear that Chris McCann was the most important player on Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup run. McCann was the perfect player, he could fill in at center back, left back, defensive midfield, and he was compensated handsomely for it as he should have been. Plus, he had another overwhelming quality that Atlanta has sorely missed in 2019: his name is not Brek Shea.
Miguel Almiron: It is clear that Miguel Almiron was the most important player on Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup run. MLS will never see another player like him, he was a unicorn, I’m not sure that the alternate reality isn’t one where his two years in MLS didn’t happen and Atlanta United was actually Minnesota United over that time. All it took was a father figure calling him on the phone uttering “quiero contar contigo” and he put his European dreams on hold for two years to breeze through the league, his feet barely touching the ground as he impossibly found even more speed flying with the ball at his feet. We weren’t watching a soccer player, but a pixie dream man we could all inscribe our hopes and dreams onto as he effortlessly tore through the league, overcoming anonymous college graduates, American goalkeepers, and steely-eyed psychotic defensive midfielders along the way.
We didn’t replace him and in truth we never could.
It’s the supporters: Where’s the pashun? Where’s the love? All we’ve had are complaints about a star on the new kit and questions about the number of stripes on the jersey. THERE’S STILL FIVE ON THE CREST. The tifo haven’t been artistic enough, the chants don’t even rhyme; the flags are barely obstructing anyone’s view; the standing has been for 90 but the posture is slumped — indicating a wondering mind preparing to sit or even buy food; no opposing teams fans have even seen fit to write overwrought editorials completely lacking in self-awareness because of the success the fans enjoy all year; is anyone even ATLUTDTID enough to point out how often Josef is offside in 2019? In all, the Atlanta viking chant seems to have departed for Valhalla... When was the last time the fans even broke an attendance record?
Blame the media: What with their reasonable analysis of the team and interviews with players and coaches informing fans of what’s going on with United, tirelessly searching for news and writing posts about obscure superstar’s siblings who might play for Atlanta United, writers, journalists, bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers - they’re failing us. I DON’T CARE IF EZRA KLEIN SEES THIS, LET HIM READ THE TRUTH! WHERE ARE THE CALLS FOR DE BOER TO BE SACKED? Who will join this fellow adherent to reason and logic?
I believe anyone who seriously supports the club has a duty to put as much pressure on @DEalesATLUTD and @BocaBoca3 to sack de Boer. #deBoerOut. If you disagree at this point and support the man, you are an enemy to the club. Its time.— RJHeels (@RJHeels) March 31, 2019
Journalists? More like JournoENEMY OF THE SUPPORTERS AND THE TEAM.
My identity and existence has so much staked on Atlanta United that it sickens me to have to write these words. It’s getting too hard, the tears are filling my face, I’ve said all I think I can say, just get it together lads. I didn’t get banned from Twitter for trying to have a LOGICAL and REASONABLE debate about why the Departed is a comedy to watch you embarrass the city and the league like this. If you need to hear more, I put it all together in this video.